One of the cleverest early sketches from ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ was a parody of the infamous chat show encounter between two of the Pythons on one side and Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark on the other, arguing over the moral merits of ‘Life of Brian’. The sketch turned the encounter around by presenting Rowan Atkinson as the dog-collar director of a movie called ‘Life of Christ’, which Mel Smith as a film critic declared to be a direct attack on the cult of Monty Python; the latter pointed out that the lead character, Jesus Christ, even shares the same initials as ‘the Comic Messiah, John Cleese’. It may seem blatantly obvious, but it only belatedly occurred to me a few days ago that somebody currently claiming considerable headlines also shares those initials, and this ‘JC’ is a recipient of a similarly religious-like devotion on the part of his followers. Recent events, however, have made me ponder on precisely who is really behind the Cult of Corbyn, and how great a say the man himself has re the storm he’s been placed in the eye of.
Reports over the past few days claim that not only did a delegation of Shadow Cabinet Ministers seek an audience with the Labour leader to try to resolve the ongoing crisis over his leadership, but the Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson also sought to speak at length in a private one-on-one meeting with Jezza; both parties were denied access to Corbyn by his aides. The reason given for this denial of access was that both meetings would have resulted in Corbyn being bullied by these members of the party (ones who are supposedly junior to him) into resigning; but preventing anyone perceived as dangerous from speaking to the Messiah has a strangely sinister ring to it when one examines the language employed.
‘We are not letting that happen’ said the customary ‘unnamed source’ alleged to be part of Corbyn’s Pontifical Swiss Guard. Added to that were ‘He’s a 70-year-old man’ (he’s actually 67), ‘There is a culture of bullying’, and ‘We have a duty of care’. A duty of care? Are these statements being issued by political advisors to the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition or are they coming from the offspring of a dementia-stricken old dear, keeping him under effective house arrest and giving themselves power of attorney in order to protect their inheritance from rival siblings? Corbyn can consistently address his disciples from a public podium, playing the martyr being assaulted by evil establishment forces and adhering to a narrative cannily scripted by the hands of others, yet his Shadow Cabinet and Deputy can’t get near him thanks to the Hollywood starlet-style wall erected around him. That doesn’t sound right.
As a career backbencher, Jeremy Corbyn had no need to surround himself with SPADs when all he had to concern himself with was voting against his party on a serial basis since the 1980s. But the unlikely gesture of Jezza throwing his hat into the ring during the post-Miliband leadership contest last year now seems more like a calculated plot by Labour’s far left to exploit dissatisfaction with the other contenders and the Blairite wing of the party by aggressively pushing an outsider to serve as patsy for their plan to seize control. And the more their man is under attack, the greater his support within the membership, which strengthens both their position and their grip on the party.
Seumas Milne is one of Corbyn’s ‘protectors’. The man who was appointed Jezza’s Director of Communications is the son of former BBC Director General Alasdair Milne and a graduate of Winchester College and Oxford, so his background doesn’t exactly fit with the avowed anti-elite shtick key to Corbyn’s cult appeal. However, his political path fits perfectly with the familiar formula of rich kids overcoming the guilt of privilege by finding solace in the left and then lecturing the less privileged on the solution to their ills. He worked for a magazine produced by the Stalinist wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain after leaving ultra-establishment Balliol, and by the time he’d moved to The Guardian the signs of future paranoia towards any powerful organisation daring to challenge Corbyn’s authority – whether the BBC, Fleet Street or the Labour Party itself – were already in evidence when Richard Gott, a colleague at the paper, resigned over KGB connections and Milne claimed those who had exposed him were on the payroll of MI5. His six years as Guardian Comment editor ended when it was felt his pro-Palestine/anti-Israel views were becoming a tad obsessive. And we all thought Andy Coulson was a bad appointment.
Corbyn’s decision to appoint Milne would seem to fit with his own publicised opinions on subjects Milne wrote extensively about during his decades in journalism; but the evident inability of Corbyn to connect with anyone beyond the fanatical faithful – shown at its most disastrous on June 23 – was bound to lead to criticism, and it is unsurprising that any criticism of Corbyn is spun as establishment animosity and Blairite bias by Milne. Question the testimony of sexual abuse ‘survivors’ or the Jimmy Savile mythology and one is a Paedo Apologist; question the competency of Corbyn as Labour leader and one is a right-wing racist Tory scumbag.
The current coup attempt (if it can even be called a coup) has served to reinforce Corbyn’s status as the browbeaten saviour of the Proles; and while social media continues to be dominated by blind adulation and veneration on the part of those who have been successfully sold the concept of Corbyn as the Second Coming, behind-the-scenes machinations by shadowy figures with a nihilistic agenda may well be preventing the resignation of a man under such immense fire that anyone with a genuine say in their career would most likely have fallen on their sword by now.
The bloodletting amongst Conservatives following Michael Gove’s backstabbing activities may have been called Shakespearean by the media, yet it would seem events on the other side of the dispatch box bear an even closer resemblance to a drama by the Bard. I can’t help but suspect the architects of this entire coup story could well be the same disreputable characters who facilitated Corbyn’s rise in the first place; the threat of his possible toppling conveniently discredits the centrist MPs who will be blamed for it forevermore and maintains the ridiculous reputation of the Labour left as morally superior to the Labour right.
Corbyn’s appearance as a candidate in 2015 was something they seized upon with relish, but I don’t believe they give a shit as to the psychological impact on the man himself after the relentless pressure he’s been put under of late – a man who appears to be principled and true to the beliefs he has always espoused, a man entirely unsuited for a hot seat stained by their ruthless thirst for power, a thirst that will utterly obliterate the Labour Party if they are allowed to continue.
© The Editor